Farmers typically stay away from aluminum fabricated equipment because the lightweight metal has a reputation for brittleness and the welds can tool-harden and then crack.
In many circumstances, the bad reputation is justified.
But when it comes to spray booms, engineers have devised a design that allows aluminum booms up to 140 feet to bounce around without fear of bending or snapping.
The key is a combination of boom geometry coupled with special round aluminum tubes that have extruded internal spiralling ribs running around the inner surface of the pipe. A round tube is stronger than a square tube, and the ribs that run the length of the pipe make it even tougher.
Dwayne Bulizuik has been importing the Pommier brand of aluminum spray booms from France for five years. His company, Gaber Distributors of Roblin, Man., has sold 70 such booms to prairie farmers in this time. He said about a third have gone to custom applicators, with the balance going to farmers.
“We’ve had only one boom that developed a problem. That was on a custom applicator in southwestern Saskatchewan. We went out to investigate and found that the boom was not adjusted properly. So we welded it up, fixed the adjustment problem, and he’s been going strong for the past two seasons since then.”
While weight is a positive factor in nearly all ag implement components, Bulizuik said it is a major problem for spray booms. The more they weigh and the further the boom extends from the main machine, the more it takes on a life of its own and wants to drive itself.
The Pommier 120 foot aluminum boom weighs 705 pounds per side, which Bulizuik said is 30 to 50 percent lighter than a conventional steel spray boom of the same size.
Until this spring, the biggest aluminum boom Pommier built was 100 feet. That was the TR4 model comprising four main aluminum pipes.
The TR5, which is now available, uses a five pipe design and can be ordered in four sizes ranging from 105 to 120, 130 and 140 feet.
“The 120 foot boom is without a doubt the most popular size because it can match up with so many seeder sizes. With the older TR4 model, we were stuck at 100 feet max. Now we can easily accommodate any size requirement.
“The 140 foot is intended mainly for the big Rogators, Wilmar Eagles and Case sprayers. The big sprayers. That boom still folds up into two sections.”
Another feature that sprayer operators like is the nozzle protection.
“The nozzles are tucked up inside the frame so you’re not smacking them,” said Bulizuik. “Their opening is big enough so you still get the proper spray pattern, but it should be just about impossible to bang them up.”
The 100 foot TR5 sells for $14,000 while the 120 foot version is $23,500. Prices include the mounting kit. For more information, phone 800-463-8748.